Friday, July 30, 2010


We got back tonight from visiting our friends in Germany. Thank you, Hummels, we had a great time!

We all went to Legoland Deutschland on Tuesday. We drove through rain to get there so we were expecting to be water-logged by the end of the day, but it ended up not raining too much. It was chilly out, but that was much better than too hot! It was not crowded at all, which was a great surprise. We got to ride everything we wanted to, and despite having four kids with us, we made it through the day with only a couple minor meltdowns. [I was going to rewrite that last sentence to make it more grammatically correct and accurate (the kids had the meltdowns, not us), but I kind of like it the way it is.]

Noah thought Lego Bob the Builder was very cool.

Frédéric took Benjamin on this ride while the bigger kids went on a roller coaster.

He liked it so much I took him on it again.

This guy welcomed us to Legoland Atlantis, an aquarium.

In Miniland, there are hundreds of Lego sculptures representing real places. This is a building in Berlin.

We rode the Lego train.

We visted the Lego factory, and each got our very own freshly made Lego brick.

Benjamin walked around most of the day scowling even though he said he was having a good time. I tried to get him to show me his "happy face" and this is what he came up with.

There was a very cool "race track" (if you can call it that when the cars go about 2 mph) where the kids got to drive their own Lego cars around. Benjamin and Tristan did this twice while some of the rest of us went on a different roller coaster. They got a driver's license at the end of it.

Noah was tall enough to ride on the safari! (accompanied by an adult, of course)

Noah and Frédéric driving through the Lego safari.

And I was tall enough for the roller coaster. Yay me!

Noah waiting around for the others to get off a ride.

Noah and Frédéric on the boat ride... I was riding with Benjamin, and didn't realize we had to actually drive the boats, they weren't on an automatic track or anything! The ride attendant tried to tell me so when she saw us not moving, but as I don't speak German, it took me a bit to figure it out... we did finally get moving, but Noah and Frédéric caught up to us quickly!

Noah and Benjamin, eaten by a shark.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

On Our Way

Well, two weeks have flown by, and my mom is on her way back to St. Louis tomorrow. We didn't even let her out of the house much, only once for the trip to the garden center and then this morning for church, so she is probably ready to fly the coop. She has declined to fit Noah in her luggage and take him back with her, so I guess we are stuck with both of them.

Saturday some of Frédéric's cousins, his brother and sister-in-law, and his niece came over for lunch. It was a short lunch by our standards, lasting only about five and a half hours. The cheese-stuffed snow peas served as an appetizer were a big hit - too bad they were such a pain to make that we won't be doing them again!

We had a little sun before the clouds took over, but even with the sun, it was too cold for the kids to go in the swimming pool. We decided it would be wiser to have dessert inside so we didn't get rained on.

We picked everything we could out of the garden today and will be taking zucchini, snow peas, green beans and tomatoes with us to Germany. We are planning on going to Legoland on Tuesday so I should have some more interesting pictures to post soon!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

This week has been filled with

work, multiple trips to the hardware store, hedge trimming, car repairs, flower planting, vegetable harvesting, and hanging of curtains, among other things. Sadly, all of that - or at least the kid-free versions of all of that, but likely also the rapidity with which we managed to do all of that - will soon come to an end, since my mom will be going back home on Monday morning.

But we'll have our trip to Germany to distract us from losing our babysitter, dishwasher, seamstress, and gardener.

Here is our retaining wall after the flower planting:

I'm hoping my black thumb doesn't kill them as soon as my mom leaves.

And here is Benjamin's contribution to the landscaping, the dirt castle:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A trip to France is no vacation for grandma

Benjamin and I drove through a thunderstorm Monday morning to pick up my mom at the airport. About 4 minutes after we left the house, Benjamin told me he wanted to go back home. I told him we couldn't, because Grandma was waiting for us at the airport. He didn't care. But I was pretty sure he couldn't find his way home in the rain, so I didn't let him out.

We put my mom on kid duty right after Benjamin and Noah helped her unpack. They were a little disappointed to see that she had taken up some of the space in her suitcase with her clothes, instead of filling it with only gifts for them.

Besides kid duty, we also set her to work gardening. She and Noah are great at weeding the yard.

We all went to the garden center on Tuesday, and we let her pick out what to plant in the retaining wall.

More pics of that to come later, but here is what we came home with.

And last night she got to play hair stylist as well, cutting Benjamin's hair against his wishes ("I want my hair long!").

Frédéric is taking advantage of this extra time to work on the bargain car we got last month, in the hopes that we can drive it to Germany at the end of the month so I won't have to feel Noah kicking my seat the entire way as I do in our smaller cars. (I'm hoping for a limo as our next car, with that divider between the front and back so we can't hear the kids. Let me know if you hear of any good deals.)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

As close as we can get to a padded room

Really, I'm not sure if it should be for him, or for me. But Noah was driving us up the wall with his incessant crib-kicking, so we removed the crib from his room. Of course, to do that, we also had to bolt his wardrobe to the wall so he doesn't pull it over on himself, remove his dresser so he doesn't smash his fingers in the drawers, remove his chair so he doesn't climb up and fall off of it, change the outlets for protected ones so he doesn't electrocute himself, turn off the radiator at the electric box so he doesn't accidentally turn it on and die of heatstroke, and remove his fan so he doesn't chop his fingers off in it. Thank goodness he can't reach his skylight yet. So here is his new, pared-down room.

Never before has his personality been quite so well-captured on film. See that devilish gleam in his eyes, that fiesty grin, and that ready-to-attack stance? THAT is Noah.

It only took him about three hours to crash - not so bad when you consider that it took him about two when he occupied himself by kicking his crib all night. Notice he pushed his mattress right up against the radiator. That would be why we cut off the electricity to it.

Before falling asleep, he unscrewed all three knobs from the drawers of his wardrobe. Sigh. I'm leaving them off; I don't use those drawers anyway.

I didn't hear him at naptime today, and he's been fairly quiet this evening (night 2) also. Perhaps one day my sanity will start to slowly return.

In the meantime, I conned my mom into convinced my mom to come give me a break for a couple of weeks. She arrives Monday morning, and I can't wait!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Summer fun for the whole family

She says: "Having a wood-burning fireplace to heat your house in the winter is great for family fun and togetherness."

She means: "Oooooh boy, I can't WAIT til our boys are older and can help stack the firewood!"

Our firewood was delivered today (and thank goodness it is only 64° out right now and not 90° like last week!) and I made trips back and forth with the wheelbarrow while Frédéric stacked the wood. The picture above shows what still has to be stacked after lunch. (By whom? The wood elves are tired!)

This is what has already been stacked. In theory, we ordered enough firewood for a winter and a half. In reality, it may be just enough if this winter is as cold and as long-lasting as last year's.

During this time, the boys "made a garden" (read: dug up the weeds that had taken over the tulip bed). For Benjamin, this really meant digging up weeds - for Noah, it meant removing the dirt and tossing it on the walk.

I managed to salvage some of our tulip bulbs from their energetic digging so we can plant them elsewhere next year. I'm pretty sure there are many more lurking down there, so we'll need to do some more digging to find the others.

Friday, July 2, 2010

My Pizzaiolos

Sometimes we employ giants to make our pizzas.

Other times we use child labor.
We started their training a couple of years ago.

See how he places the mozzerella with surgical precision!

Witness the intense concentration.

Pizza-making is serious business!

Benjamin's last day of school was yesterday. The teacher asked that Benjamin come in the afternoon since it was the last day and they'd be playing games. That meant Frédéric took him to school at 9, I picked him up at 12, took him back at 2, put Noah down for his nap late, (snuck a quick dip in the kids' pool before getting back to work,) and picked him up at 5. Four trips per day to school are not that much fun, so we're thinking about what to do next year - let him buy school lunch at the exorbitant price of 4.20 € per day ($5.25), or do the 4 back-and-forths, or mix and match.

The teacher told me yesterday that they finally got their first English word out of Benjamin, on the last day of school. Benjamin told me the teacher asked him how to say "gobelet" in English, and Benjamin told him it was "cup." "Gobelet is cup. It's the same thing!" he exclaimed as he told me the story, as though this should be obvious to everyone.

And one of his little classmates, Florence, asked her mommy to ask Benjamin's mommy to come over and teach them some English words. Florence's mommy was trying to tell Florence that I spoke American, not English (a common distinction over here)... I told her there were differences, but probably fewer than those between Parisian French and Canadian French.